Nichols’ plea gets a chilly reception

McALESTER, Okla. – Speaking publicly for the first time, Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols on Monday asked survivors and families of victims for forgiveness and offered to correspond with them if they felt it would help them cope with the 1995 bombing that killed 168 people.

Nichols, 49, made his comments at his sentencing to life in prison on a state conviction of 161 charges of first-degree murder, as well as charges of conspiracy and arson.

“My heart truly goes out to all the victims, survivors and anyone who has been affected by the Oklahoma City bombing,” he said. “Words cannot adequately express the sorrow I have had over the years for the grief that so many have endured and continue to suffer. I am truly sorry for what occurred.”

He invited the relatives of those killed in the bombing, as well as others, to write to him if they felt it would “assist in their healing process.”

But the dozen or so victims and survivors who attended the sentencing said they remained disappointed that Nichols did not directly admit his role in the bombing.

“It was all self-serving,” said Darlene Welch of Guthrie, who lost her 4-year-old niece, Ashley Eckles, and the child’s paternal grandparents the day of the bombing. “It’s just all about what’s good for him.”

As for writing Nichols, Gloria Taylor of Edmond, whose 41-year-old daughter, Teresa Lea Lauderdale, was killed in the blast, said: “I can put my stamp to better use. There will never really be closure. He’s asking us our forgiveness. Looking us in the eye might have helped.”

Nichols was already serving a life sentence without parole for the deaths of eight federal agents when, on May 26, a jury convicted him on state charges. Oklahoma prosecutors had hoped to win the death penalty but the jury deadlocked, leaving State District Judge Steven Taylor to sentence Nichols to life.

Nichols’ former Army buddy, Timothy McVeigh was convicted of murder in federal court and was executed in 2001.

Nichols’ defense attorneys have urged him not to appeal because a new trial could result in another attempt to secure the death penalty.

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